IP Addresses and Connected TV: The Problem You Didn’t Know Existed.

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The milk has been spilled and most everyone knows cookies are about to expire. What isn’t being talked about as much, is the impending sunset of IP addresses for advertising use. But we need to start the discussion. Read on to discover why digital marketers should consider non-IP address-based solutions in their connected TV (CTV) buys.

CTV doesn’t use cookies and device IDs like our established desktop and mobile campaigns do. Instead, the industry has long relied on IP addresses to identify audiences and build household graphs for targeting and measurement. Why is this a problem? Aside from their potential for inaccuracies, they are often considered personally identifiable information (PII). 

For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) considers information “personal information” if it “identifies, relates to, describes, is reasonably capable of being associated with, or could reasonably be linked, directly or indirectly, with a particular consumer or household.” Our industry aims to tie a user to an IP address, so it would stand to reason IP addresses are being used to identify a consumer or household. Essentially, an IP address can be as personal as your mailing address or phone number, which is great for advertising but a problem for privacy.

Unlike websites that are adopting cookie consent banners and apps asking for permissions upon downloads to track a user, the CTV space does not, and cannot, ask for a user to opt-in or opt-out of their IP address being tracked for advertising use. This is the strongest reason IP addresses will soon see the same demise device IDs and cookies. In fact, it is already happening. Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention will automatically mask IP addresses in its browser, and Google is working on a proposal called Gnatcatcher to disguise people’s IP addresses. 

The timing of an industry-wide ban on IP addresses is unknown, but thankfully, Google rejected IP addresses for CTV targeting and measurement from the beginning and has opted-in to an Identifier for Advertising (IFA) instead. Media buyers using Display & Video 360 (DV360) for CTV campaigns won’t have to worry about future-proofing their media in a few years as it is already future-proofed. The IFA is a type of specialized tracking for TV devices and CTV/OTT networks to track performance completely disconnected from a hardware ID, MAC address, IMEI, or IP address. Essentially, it contains a unique value that provides device identification and is different in each device, while offering users full control over ad tracking.

If you want to take a deeper dive into the future of IP addresses and CTV, check out my recent interview with Practical Ecommerce. And if you’re ready to create a privacy-safe CTV campaign, you can use LiveRamp Data Store, eXelate and comScore third-party audiences. They all include IFA-based identifiers. 

Want to continue this conversation with Adswerve? Reach out to your Account Representative or email us at contact@adswerve.com.